Rocketman film review: an eye-popping musical biopic

Taron Egerton as Elton John.
Taron Egerton as Elton John.

ROCKETMAN blasts off with a belter of an entrance by Taron Egerton as Elton John in this eye-popping musical biopic about the early life of the shy superstar who has sold more than 300 million records.

The British prodigy’s rapid rise to stardom – he was a millionaire at 25 – is told in flashbacks as he is seen bursting into rehab dressed as a demon to a rousing rendition of The Bitch is Back.

As the soundtrack of his life plays out through the film, so too does the pain and the glory of being Reggie Dwight; the kid born into a loveless marriage who uses music to become the larger-than-life rock star with a thirst for life that almost kills him. Young Elton jumps aboard the musical rollercoaster hurtling him towards fame and fortune, as those he meets along the way light the flame.

“Life gives you few chances, Reggie and this one is yours,” says one admirer, while another strikes gold with, “kill the person you were born to be in order to be the person you want to be”.

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Taron Egerton as Elton John.

Hungry for identity, he takes them at their word, walks through every open door and falls into a toxic love affair with his manager John Reid (Richard Madden) and a punishing work schedule. Heart-wrenching stuff but there’s worse to come.

Lost in a world where he feels unloved and lonely, despite his close bond with songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), young Elton adorns his body in brighter and bolder costumes as he freefalls into the hedonistic hell of drink and drugs.

The cycle of self-pity manifests into more self-abuse and a fateful marriage until he finds the will to seek change.

Parental warning: drug misuse, sex and strong language are used in this film.

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THE ESSENTIALS

Rocketman (M)

Directed by: Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones and Bryce Dallas Howard

3.5 stars

Reviewed by: Lynn Grierson

In cinemas May 30